You can expect for true love from online dating but scammers are also expecting for you.
No one wants to be scammed, especially during online dating. It’s both emotionally and economically hurt.
However, you should learn about the signs of online dating scam and stop it in time.
How do Online Dating Scams Work?
Here’s an online dating scam that usually takes place.
“Lucy” registered an account on an online dating site and was followed by “Tim” who claimed to be an American citizen but living overseas for business in Australia. Lucy and Tim seemed to have an amazing time online and began planning a trip that summer as Tim would return to the US. Tim sent Lucy a check for $6,000 for the trip cost but then suddenly asked Lucy to send $5,500 back because he needed money for emergency. Lucy deposited the check and sent $5,500 to Tim. But later she was notified by her bank that the check was problematic and she was required to repay $5,500. With money lost, the love “Tim” couldn’t be found any longer on the website.
According to the story, procedures of an online dating scam can be concluded:
Step 1. Catfishing
Catfishing is a term especially for online dating scammers that create fake online profiles luring men or women to trust and worship them. For example, some male romance scammers portray themselves to be a yahoo boy or a US citizen working overseas on oil rig or serve in a military. Moreover, they look handsome in their images and look rich based on their daily life. The essential aim of the above is to catfish more targets.
Step 2. Trust Building
It usually takes a couple of weeks or months to build trust enough for targets to pay for their money. Although the final aim of scammers lies in the money, they aren’t so silly to ask for money for the first-time talk. It takes time and efforts to establish trust between scammers and their targets.
Step 3. Switch to Private Messaging
With trust constantly built between two parties, scammers will suggest talking via private tunnel like phone, email, social media or instant messaging app. All those private communication tunnels are beneficial for scammers to gradually lead targets to trust them and be able to pay for them finally.
Step 4. Ask for Money
Here comes the climax of online dating scam, that is, asking for money. To find a suitable chance to lure targets to pay for money, emergencies will be created like disease, robbery, out of job, etc. so as to lead targets to pay for money naturally and wire transfer is a common way.
What are Signs of Online Dating Scams?
As a matter of fact, you have more than one chance to recognize an online dating scam before you’re really scammed.
Express Emotions Strongly and Quickly
Do you believe the love at first sight, online? I’m afraid not.
If someone on dating sites quickly and strongly express their love to you, you should be cautious because he or she is mostly possibly a con artist.
Work Overseas or as a Military
If someone tells you that he or she works overseas or works as a military outside the US, you’ve been probably targeted by scammers. Romance scammers usually portrait themselves as talented and successful and to be traveling all over the world. If he or she always find excuses to refuse to meet in person or have a video chat, that’ll be 100% sure.
Switch from Dating Sites to Messaging Apps
Romance scammers always lure you to switch to social media or instant messaging app from online dating sites because the communications tunnels are easy for them to get money from their targets. If your online dates are eager to ask you for your WhatsApp account, you should be cautious.
Leave No Traces on the Internet
People now live in a digital world where everyone can’t live without the Internet. If your online date leaves no traces on the Internet, then that must be a scammer. To better know the status of your online date, you’re suggested to check their social media accounts to see their posts and images on Facebook or Twitter and can also check the timeline. There may be a kind of people who never use the Internet but they won’t find love through online dating, either.
Perform Incompatibly with the Profile
Just as is mentioned above, con artists usually portray themselves to be successful in order to lure more targets. If you find inappropriate grammar or words, frequently wrong spellings or lack of common sense during your communications, it’s possible that you’re talking with a romance scammer.
Refuse to Meet in Person or Video Chat
Romance scammers are fake people whose identities are created by themselves and even their image used for online dating are from magazines or Google. Therefore, they surely refuse to meet you in person based on any excuse and they usually refuse to have a video chat based on a reason that the camera on their device goes wrong. Whenever that happens, you should give yourself a warning.
Ask for Money from You for Numerous Emergencies
As trust is established between you and your date, con artists are usually ready to move towards their final aim, to ask for money. They have numerous reasons to ask money from you.
“I need money to support my family for sickness.”
“I need money to pay for traveling to visit you.”
“I need money to start my own business.”
“I need money because I got robbed just now.”
Whenever money is asked by your online dates, it’s right time to say goodbye to them.
How to Keep Safe during Online Dating to Avoid Scams?
Bottom line: Never send money to anyone you haven’t met in person.
Slow Down Online Dating
Never expect a perfect man to immediately love you based on online contacts. You can talk to anyone on online dating sites but keep alert all the time. If you are a man over 50 and a model-like girl of 20 expresses her love to you, ask yourself why first.
Stop Sharing Too Much
Don’t share your personal information like home address or job company to anyone during online dating and provide limited information about you on your profile. Stop posting images indicating your geological location on dating sites.
Use a Second Number or Email to Register Dating Accounts
Don’t use your private phone number to register an account on online dating sites. Use a second phone number or email instead to protect your personal information from being exposed to the Internet.
Stick to the Dating Site
Because romance scammers always ask their targets to switch to private communication tunnel like social media or instant messaging app, it’s safe to stick to the dating site and keep alert when your online date invites you to switch to a private communication tunnel.
Google Your Dates’ Traces on the Internet
Whenever someone uses the Internet, there must be some traces left. Google your date to see their traces on the Internet. If no information can be searched, keep alert at once. You can also reverse image search on Google to see whether their images are really from them.
What to Do if You’ve Been Scammed by Online Date?
If, unfortunately, you’ve been scammed by online date, you can still do something to compensate for your loss.
- Clean up all contacts and block dates’ phone numbers, IM accounts, and email addresses.
- Keep all your communications.
- Report your issue to the dating website, local police, bank, and FTC.